Flavours of Costa RicaA surfer's guide to the culinary delights of this Central American paradise.

Costa Rica sits between two coasts, each of which boasts an exciting array of colourful cuisine. The result?  A combination of Caribbean and Latin influences that means that local dishes are delicious but also budget friendly.

I’ve eaten every Burrito in Mal Pais, sampled all the Casados in Santa Teresa and snacked on Ceviche in all of the bars in between. I’ve done my research, so for anyone who’s heading out to Paradise with us in February, here’s what to prepare your palate for as well as how much to budget:


I usually start the day (early) with some fruit whilst running to the surf. Coconuts, bananas and papayas literally grow on the trees around you and are cheap as chips as well as being perfect pre-surf fuel.

However, this probably isn’t enough to fuel you for the whole day so a post-surf second breakfast is normally a huge and hearty Breakfast Burrito or cheap and cheerful Gallo Pinto (rice and beans), both with plenty of hot sauce. I’ll wash them down with a couple of cups of what is literally the best coffee in the World.  There are plantations everywhere in land, so everywhere sells good, proper coffee.


After another surf you’ll have easily worked up an appetite and it’ll be lunchtime. Yucca is on the menu everywhere and is the Central American answer to the potato, as is plantain which is basically a savoury banana. They’re both full of good energy but don’t make the mistake that I made (every day for a week a few years ago) and eat them raw – they need to be cooked.

Lunch is also time for another Costa Rican classic: ceviche, which is simply raw fish in lime juice and spiced with peppers. Furthermore, all of this goes perfectly with my favourite drink in Costa Rica, ‘Agua de pipa’; a cold coconut. The coco water stuff in the UK has nothing on the real deal.


Finally, after a third and final surf, you’ll watch the sunset with a local beer followed by dinner. The backbone of the Costa Rican diet is gallo pinto and in addition to the casado it makes up a part of the ultimate Costa Rican meal. This combines gallo pinto with meat or fish, fried onions, salad, fried plantain as well as occasionally cheese, covered in hot sauce. It’s basic and big as well as cheap. Perfect surfer food.


The most cost effective way to sample all of this goodness and to also fuel all those surfs is to cook as a group. Avocados and papayas are plentiful around here and each apartment on the trip has a fully equipped kitchen for you to make up your culinary masterpieces. There is also a big BBQ perfect for grilling the fish that we catch on the fishing trip.

This is my typical daily meal plan for under $20/ $140 per week:

  • Pre surf breakfast: Avocado on toast with papaya & lime juice: approx $3.  Or banana pancakes at Zwart: $5
  • Post surf snack: 2 x bananas and a coconut: $2
  • Lunch: Scrambled egg, rice and beans burrito, approx: $2
  • Pre surf snack: Banana cake from Zwart Art Café: $2
  • Post surf sunset beer(s): $2
  • Dinner: BBQ steak/ fish, jacket potato, salad, approx.: $4 or beef burrito from Soda Tequitia: $5.
  • Dessert: Oreo trit – ice cream sandwiched between oreo biscuit.  Trust me, it’s the best thing ever: $2
  • Total = $20

Eating Out

There are some incredible restaurants and ‘sodas’ around.  I would advise eating out for at least one meal per day. Here are some of our favourite restaurants and cafes:

  • Don Jons serve the famous breakfast burrito, which is incredibly tasty and filling. $$
  • The Zwart Art Café (next door) do the best banana pancakes and banana cake $$
  • Almendra Sweets is a personal favourite, owing to their incredible cakes, quiche and service. It’s on the way to Playa Carmen on the jungle side and usually with funky music playing. $
  • Burger Rancho is on the same row as Pita Place and reserved for the hungrier luncher. Great burgers- the fish one is a personal favourite. $$
  • Soda Tiquicia, which is 200m north of La Lora and on your right is the jewel in the crown for us. They do the best casado in the area as well as huge tasty burritos. $
  • Pizza Tomate, which is a few doors down (south) of Don Jons, do the best pizzas in the area. $$
  • Pasta Basta, which is just before you get to Playa Carmen on the jungle side, does the best home made pasta and usually have a good vibe with live music or a DJ til late. $$
  • Habaneros is just before Pasta Basta and on the beach side.  It’s quite expensive ($10 for Lobster tacos, still hardly breaking the bank) but is amazing. Right on the beach, it has hammocks for you to nurse your food coma in, and good Mexican beers and ales! $$$
  • Koji’s is on the way to Playa Hermosa. It’s a very fancy sushi place, with easily the best sushi in the area and the best we’ve ever had and a romantic atmosphere. Relatively expensive and reserved for special occasions. $$$
  • Roc A Mar. This place overlooks the wave Super Suck at the north end of Santa Teresa beach. It’s probably the best place from which to watch the sunset and they do an amazing Sunday BBQ for $10, with all types of food on the grill, washed down with delicious cocktails. $$$
  • Maries in Mal Pais and is the best restaurant in the area. The bacon and broccoli pizza is outstanding. $$$

If you fancy eating, surfing and yoga’ing your way through Costa Rica, join us this February 2018.